Open Horizons

Open Horizons

SIGURD F. OLSON
illustrated by Leslie Kouba
Copyright Date: 1969
Edition: NED - New edition
Pages: 246
https://www.jstor.org/stable/10.5749/j.cttttm0r
  • Cite this Item
  • Book Info
    Open Horizons
    Book Description:

    Illustrated by Leslie Kouba Sigurd Olson’s love affair with the wilderness began in a stream near his house in Wisconsin-he caught his first trout there with a tamarack wand, black thread, and a grasshopper as bait. Open Horizons is his autobiography, and in it he recounts a life lived on and for the land, from the wonder of boyhood fishing expeditions to decades-long conservation battles.

    eISBN: 978-0-8166-8859-3
    Subjects: Biological Sciences

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-x)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. xi-xii)
  3. INTRODUCTION
    (pp. xiii-2)

    IN TRAVELING GREAT RIVERS AND LAKES, THERE ARE TIMES WHEN islands fade, hills and headlands recede, the water merges with the sky in a distant mirage of shimmery blue. These are the open horizons of the far north.

    If it is calm, the canoes drifting through reflections with nothing to break the vast silence but the hypnotic swish of paddles, there are moments when one seems suspended between heaven and earth. If it is stormy and the lake alive with whitecaps and blowing spume, each instant is full of battle and excitement. When, after hours and sometimes days, the misty...

  4. CHAPTER I THE PIPES OF PAN
    (pp. 3-20)

    The pipes of pan sound early before the sense of wonder is dulled, while the world is wet with dew and still fresh as the morning. To remember when those elfin notes were first heard is almost impossible, but this I believe is true, that long before recognition, the music has been heard. The look of wide-eyed delight in the eyes of a child is proof enough of its presence.

    My first recollection came one sunny afternoon when Mother led me through a grove of maples in the fall. That day the trees must have been in full color, for...

  5. CHAPTER II THE WIND’S WILL
    (pp. 21-38)

    The days of wide-eyed wonder merged gradually into a new era of growing physical activity and exploration of the countryside. Awe and surprise were still there, but now it was coupled with a hunger for new experiences that could not be denied. I ran the woods savoring everything, indulging my senses, absorbing smells, sights, and sounds as a sponge absorbs water.

    The adventures of Daniel Boone, Kit Carson, Natty Bumppo, and all the romantic figures of the frontier peopled my dreams. I seldom visited the alder swamp or the great pine any more. Before me now was an open horizon...

  6. CHAPTER III FEEL OF THE LAND
    (pp. 39-60)

    America is still close to the frontier, so close in fact we can almost hear the rumble of wagon trains heading west. Burning leaves in the dusk of Indian summer bring memories of times when skies were red from prairie fires and flaming woodlands along the routes of migration. Far horizons thrill us as they did then, the blue and white of distant mountains, the reaches of open space on deserts and plains. In the mists of morning along our rivers and lakes, ghosts speak to us of unnamed waterways flowing clean and full to the sea. When we cross...

  7. CHAPTER IV SONG OF THE NORTH
    (pp. 61-80)

    The song of the north still fills me with the same gladness as when I heard it first. It came not only from the land of the Great Lakes, but from the vast regions beyond the Canadian border. More than terrain, more than woods, lakes, and forests, it had promise and meaning and sang of the freedom and challenge of the wilderness. I seemed drawn in its general direction as naturally as a migrating bird is by unseen lines of force, or a salmon by some invisible power toward the stream where it was spawned. Within me was a constant...

  8. CHAPTER V BEYOND THE RANGES
    (pp. 81-110)

    When i became a guide in the quetico - Superior, I did not realize what it would mean beyond satisfying the urge to see new country. True, I had lived close to the woods and relatively unsettled areas most of my life, but there was something that could not be absorbed on short forays limited to weekends or occasional camping trips during the summer. What that early period lacked was the overall cumulative impact of being away for weeks or months at a time. I needed to know what it was like to work in the woods with constant searching...

  9. CHAPTER VI STREAM OF THE PAST
    (pp. 111-134)

    There is no better way to recapture the spirit of an era than to follow old trails, gathering from the earth itself the feelings and challenges of those who trod them long ago. The landscape and way of life may be changed, but the same winds blow on waterways, plains, and mountains, the rains, snows, and the sun beat down, the miles are just as long.

    When I first saw the wilderness lake country, I knew little of its past beyond the fact the logging was about over, the great booms, rafts, and enormous mills gone. Old lumberjacks were still...

  10. CHAPTER VII FACE OF THE EARTH
    (pp. 135-152)

    The experiences of my young manhood gave me some understanding of the meaning of wilderness, and my identification with its historic background, a sense of belonging to both past and present, increased, but I still did not have the whole picture, a feel of the terrain itself.

    Mountains had once reared mighty snow-clad peaks in the Quetico-Superior, the arms of ancient seas washing almost to their bases. Erosion had leveled them to a broad plateau, while volcanic eruptions had forced lavas to the surface, breaking the basic formations still more, twisting and contorting them, penetrating the bed rock to the...

  11. CHAPTER VIII A MOUNTAIN LISTENS
    (pp. 153-172)

    The howl of a wolf in the north means wilderness. It is the background music of a great symphony of sound coming from a multiplicity of living things upon which it depends. The wolf is a creature of beauty, significance, and power, occupying the very peak of an ecological structure built of infinite relationships.

    The broad base of this pyramid of life includes the creatures of humus, a microcommunity of soil organisms in a vast composite of decay with its bacteria, viruses, and molds, its worms, larvae, and hosts of crawling things that prepare the way for larger forms, the...

  12. CHAPTER IX THE MAKER OF DREAMS
    (pp. 173-192)

    The study of the earth and its shaping opened up new vistas to me, and when finally I was aware of the intricate relationships of all forms of life in the area, my understanding grew to the point where I felt more at home in the wilderness than ever before. The story of Indians, voyageurs, explorers, and settlers added still more color and warmth, increased by the personal associations of guides and woodsmen and the men I cruised with through the lakes and rivers of the Quetico-Superior. I found during these years that the discovery of any hitherto unknown facet,...

  13. CHAPTER X BATTLE FOR A WILDERNESS
    (pp. 193-212)

    To explain why anyone is a conservationist and what motivates him to the point where absorption in the preservation of an environment becomes a personal philosophy means going back to the very beginning of his involvement with the natural scene. I believe one of the basic tenets for anyone really concerned is to have a love for the land, which comes through a long intimacy with natural beauty and living things, an association that breeds genuine affection and has an inherent understanding for its infinite and varied ecology.

    Nourished by constant appreciation of what is aesthetically and spiritually enriching, this...

  14. CHAPTER XI LANDSCAPE OF THE UNIVERSE
    (pp. 213-227)

    Over one hundred years ago henry David Thoreau said: “In wildness is the preservation of the world.” The amazing thing is that he made this prophetic and far-reaching statement at a time when civilization on the North American continent was largely confined east of the Mississippi River, the West still comparatively unknown. In the East there was still much wild country, and the rural village of Concord where he lived was a quiet community in a setting of woods and fields. Even so, he saw portents of the future, and what he saw disturbed him. The space age of today...

  15. Back Matter
    (pp. 228-228)